Before the shootout began, Syracuse Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx looked down his bench.
Groulx saw Ty Loney, who was promoted from ECHL after recording 21 points in 20 games. After some hesitation by Loney on the selection, Groulx called his number in the seventh round of the shootout.
Loney beat Senators goalie Andrew Hammond five-hole for his first pro shootout goal and Connor Ingram made a key save at the other end, as the Crunch rallied to top the Senators, 5-4, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
Syracuse is now riding a six game win streak.
“My plan was to send him first. We asked him how good he was in the shootout and he went like ‘uhhh’ so waited a little bit,” Groulx said with a laugh. “Finally, he ended up having the winner.”
“I’m more of a clean-up guy, not a lead-off guy,” Loney said with a smile.
Syracuse’s Mat Bodie recorded one goal and one assist. Dominik Masin, Mitchell Stephens and Adam Erne each scored once, while Mathieu Joseph, Kevin Lynch, Carter Verhaeghe, Matthew Peca, Matthew Spencer, Erik Cernak and Michael Bournival each had one assist.
Connor Ingram, who only saw seven shots in the first 40 minutes, finished with 20 saves for the win.
“It’s tough, especially when you don’t see the puck that often then you see a chance like that. … Sometimes it’s going to go your way and sometimes it’s not,” Ingram said. “There’s nothing you can do about it. You just have to be as ready as you can when those opportunities come.”
Masin pinched in and opened the scoring 2:29 into the contest. Filip Chlapik evened the score for Belleville, but Stephens’ shot off the rush in the final minute gave Syracuse a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
Colin White tied the score for the Senators early in the second, but Bodie’s goal off the faceoff gave the Crunch a 3-2 lead midway through the middle frame.
Despite having a 25-7 advantage in shots on goal through 40 minutes, Syracuse went into the final frame with just a one goal lead.
Former Crunch forward Chris DiDomenico — who played for Syracuse Friday night but was claimed off waivers by the Senators organization — scored on a 5-on-3 for Belleville and then assisted on Nick Paul’s go-ahead goal.
The Crunch continued to push, and Erne scored the equalizer with 48 seconds left in regulation.
“I just found myself wide open on the back door and it was a great pass by (Joseph),” Erne said. “We had some good looks before that, but we were pushing and we finally got a break.”
After a back-and-forth overtime, it went to a shootout.
Joseph scored in the first round, but Belleville’s Colin White evened it up in the third.
Loney wanted to go low glove, but was patient, outwaited Hammond and scored the game-winner in the seventh round.
“I just came down and waited and waited, and the five-hole opened up,” Loney said. “It ended up working out.”
Syracuse (10-9-1-2) begins a three-game road trip in Utica Wednesday. While the Crunch’s two wins over the weekend weren’t the prettiest, they emerged with all four points.
“It was a sloppy game for sure, but in the end we found a way to grind out a win,” Erne said. “That’s all that counts.”